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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bonilla, Cuellar supporting swap of reps’ districts

The candidate preferred by a majority of Reeves County voters for Congress in the 2002 election may soon become the area’s U.S. Representative in Washington, as part of an agreement with the man he narrowly lost to four years ago.

Democrat Henry Cuellar, who lost a close election to Republican Henry Bonilla in 2002 for the 23rd Congressional District seat before winning election to Congress two years later, would become the area’s new 23rd District representative in a deal worked out between the two men and Republican Congressman Lamar Smith.

The plan, which would shift the section of Laredo where Cuellar lives back into the 23rd District while moving the area on the northwest side of San Antonio where Bonilla lives into Smith’s 21st District, was the plan officially submitted by the State of Texas to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, along with several other proposals from other groups. The changes are being made after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a Republican-backed plan that moved Cuellar’s area of Laredo out of the 23rd District prior to the 2004 election violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

The court ruled that by adding sections northwest of San Antonio and removing part of Laredo from the district, the plan underrepresented Hispanic voters in the 23rd District by about 100,000 people. The proposed change would allow Bonilla and Cuellar to avoid a repeat of the 2002 election, while the area of San Antonio where Smith lives would become part of the 25th Congressional District, and would potentially match Smith up against Austin Democratic Lloyd Doggett in the 2006 congressional election.

"Last week my colleagues Lamar Smith and Henry Cuellar joined me in filing the only bipartisan compromise to the redistricting impasse,” Bonilla said in a statement released on Friday. “The Bipartisan Congressional Compromise Remedy we submitted is the only proposal which addresses all of the issues raised by the Supreme Court.

"I have been honored to represent the constituents in my district and would prefer to continue to represent all of the communities; however, the mandate issued by the Supreme Court has required the 23rd Congressional District be altered. The plan proposed by my bipartisan colleagues and I provide minimal disruption for future elections while addressing all of the additional concerns.

"All too seldom today are political issues resolved with bipartisan compromise and I believe the agreement we proposed will be a model for bipartisan teamwork in the future."

When the plan was first released on July 13, Cuellar told the Houston Chronicle he and Bonilla wanted to avoid a court-drawn redistricting plan that pits them against each other. "Bonilla doesn't want that. I don't want that. I'm sure the courts will look at that," Cuellar told the paper. "If you do that, you pair Bonilla and Cuellar together, and you could argue that is retrogression in the sense that you are pitting two minority members together."

Any plan approved would likely require special primary elections to be held in the affected districts to nominate new candidates before the general election. As of now, it’s not known if approval of the new district alignments will be done in time to allow the general election to take place as scheduled on Nov. 7.

Bonilla was first elected to Congress in 1992, in a 23rd District that had been drawn up prior to the election to favor incumbent Albert Bustamantes. But Bonilla won the race after the San Antonio Democrat was indicted and later convicted in a fraud scheme. He won easy re-election in his next four races, but in 2002 faced Cuellar, the former Laredo state representative who resigned as Secretary of State the previous year, following his appointment in 2000 by Gov. Rick Perry.

Cuellar won Laredo by a wide margin, and also defeated Bonilla in Reeves County by a 1,363 to 1,106 vote margin. But Bonilla was able to score a big enough win in the San Antonio area to retain his seat in Congress.

That election was held under a redistricting plan created by a federal court after the Texas Legislature failed to come up with a plan of their own. But after capturing both houses of the Legislature in 2002, Republicans went back and drew up a new congressional district map that in 2004 gave the GOP a majority for the first time in the Texas delegation, and protected Bonilla by moving Cuellar into the 28th District, represented by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez.

Cuellar challenged Rodriguez in the 2004 primary, and after an election that featured missing ballots, recounts and a court challenge, Cuellar was declared the winner by a narrow margin, and was elected to Congress that fall. Since then, he has been one of the more conservative Democrats in the U.S. House, and has drawn anger from some other Democrats for his support of President Bush on a number of issues.

A number of Democrats from both outside Cuellar’s district and outside the state worked this past spring in support of a challenge by Rodriguez, who ran in the primary to regain his seat in Washington. But Cuellar again won the election, this time by a five-point margin.

In contrast to Cuellar, Doggett has been one of the more liberal of the state’s representatives in congress serving out of Austin. The new plan splits Austin into three congressional districts, and Republicans hope that under the proposal that Smith would be able to defeat Doggett in a fall election.

Doggett does have the option of running in the 28th District, which would be an open seat with Cuellar moving over to the 23th District. Members of Congress don't have to live in the district as long as they live in the same state, but there is the chance that Rodriguez will seek to return to Congress out of South Texas by running for the 28th District seat.

Almost all the changes in the map as submitted by the state center around the Austin, San Antonio and Laredo areas. There would be no change to the 23rd District’s boundaries in West Texas, where it runs much of the way along the Pecos River. Ward County and Barstow would remain part of the 11th Congressional District, represented by Midland Republican Mike Conaway.

Among the other plans submitted to the federal court for consideration are two by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The second of those plans would match Bonilla against Cuellar, while avoiding a potential election between Smith and Doggett in November. Doggett would remain in the 25th Congressional District, while the 28th District would be moved north and would again be an open district in the next election. LULAC’s Plan A would keep Bonilla and Cuellar in separate districts, and would put all of the Laredo area and other nearby counties into Cuellar’s 28th District. The 23rd District would include more of south and east San Antonio, while again avoiding a head-to-head match up between Smith and Doggett. Several other plans also would avoid match-ups between any of the four current congressman.

Commissioners OK prison payments, hires

Lease and maintenance payments were approved, along with new personnel for the Reeves County Detention Centers by Reeves County Commissioners, during their regular meeting Monday morning.

Commissioners approved lease payments for RCDC I&II in the amount of $495,000; maintenance reserve payment for RCDC I&II in the amount of $29,166; RCDC III lease payment in the amount of $345,226 and RCDC III maintenance reserve payment in the amount of $29,166.

In addition, the group approved new personnel and promotions at both facilities, after approving a number of other new hires for all three units at their last meeting, held on July 10.

At that time new hires at RCDC III included: Amy A. Aranda, Stephen C. Aranda, Rachael J. Duarte, Jeremiah V. Jurado, Enrique E. Mata, Daniel P. Rubio, Romeo D. Santos, Angelica M. Morales, Michael Sheblea, Brittany A. Lobstein, Christopher Celaya, Hector Lozano, Danielle N. Garcia and Erica D. Franco.

New hires for RI&II, approved during the July 10 meeting were: Gilbert Carrillo, Linda J. O’Neil, Osmond E. Chambers, Paula Bejarano, Alfredo Herrera, Santos Castaneda, Antonio Carrillo, Thomas Cavazos, Michael Rosadino, Helen Raber and Blanca Roman.

“We’re always looking for individuals that would like to work at the facility,” said RCDC III Warden Martin McDaniel. “All they need is a high school diploma and to be drug-free.”

The prison is facing a shortage of guards with the coming expansion, after the county reached a 10-year, $200 million deal with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to house federal inmates at RCDC III. The move will require an increase of about 50 percent in the number of beds at the prison, and will boost pay scales for guards and other workers at the RCDC III unit up to the federally-mandated rates paid for similar positions in the RCDC I and II units.

The Bureau of Prisons agreed to utilize 1,400 beds at the RCDC III, an effort that has been ongoing by both local and state officials to secure a long-term deal for the $40 million unit, which has been housing prisoners under a contract with the State of Arizona since February of 2004.

During Monday morning’s meeting, the group approved: promotions for Velma Payan, to case manager at RCDC III, going from $22,880 a year to $30,000 and Anna Ortega to case management coordinator, from $36,083 to $42,500 a year.

New hires at RCDC I&II include: Joerichard Hinojos, Barry Bordayo, Hector Aguilar, Lydia Perkins, Edgar Villescas, John C. Millan, Adrian Montano and Liza A. Chavez, as correctional officers at $31,179.

Joel T. Rodriguez was promoted to Laundry Specialist at $31,179 and other promotions included: Robert Shaffer, Chriselda Florez and Amy Abila as activities lieutenants at $36,083 and Stephen Apolinar as operation lieutenant at $38,250.

In other action, commissioners approved a payment to Howard’s Mechanical in the amount of $202,195.

“That will leave us with a balance of $344,786, everything has checked out and is in order,” said county auditor Lynn Owens.

A permit for Dawson Geophysical was approved during the regular meeting.

“They’re trying to do some exploration work on four different tracts in Toyah,” said county commissioner precinct 1 Roy Alvarado.

Alvarado said that they will pay the county for the use of the land.

“There are three that belong to the county and one is half the county’s and half the state’s, so we will get 50 percent for the fourth one,” said Alvarado.

Commissioners also agreed to declare some election equipment as salvage. county clerk Dianne Florez said that it was equipment that was used for the punch card elections.

“Debbie (Thomas from the West of the Pecos Museum), wanted to know if she could have one of the demonstrators for the museum,” said Florez.

“I don’t see a problem with getting rid of this equipment, since the state doesn’t want us using it anymore,” said Owens.

Third guard in RCDC probe given probation in plea deal

A third former guard at the Reeves County Detention Center entered a guilty plea in return for a probated sentence in U.S. District Court in Pecos, while another guard has received a pre-trial diversion following her indictment for violations at the prison reported earlier this year.

Matthew Isaac Valencia, 23 received three years of unsupervised probation as his sentence, handed down on Thursday by U.S. Magistrate Durwood Edwards. Valencia was indicted with, and received the same sentence as another former RCDC guard, Oliver Isaac Zermeno. Zermeno pled guilty on July 11 to one count of providing/possessing contraband in prison, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation and a $500 fine. Valencia, 22, accepted the same plea deal from the government on Thursday. Under the agreement, prosecutors dismissed a more serious charge of bribery, which could have brought a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. The misdemeanor charge carried a sentence of up to one year’s imprisonment.

The other guard involved in the RCDC investigation, in which indictments were returned by a federal grand jury last month, was Magdalena Marie Mendoza, 24, of Pecos. She faced two counts of abusive sexual conduct, but according to court records was given a pre-trial diversion in lieu of pleading guilty. Under the agreement, the incident will not be placed on the court record if there are no further incidents involving Mendoza over the next 12 months.

Another former RCDC guard, Pablo Baca Briones, 38, was given five years of unsupervised probation and a $500 by Edwards for smuggling non-contraband items to inmate Jaime Cervantes, who received an additional 90 days on his current prison term during sentencing last Tuesday.

The two other guards indicted last month, Sarah G. Mata, 35, and Vanessa Valles-Valenzuela, 23, also pled guilty during hearings last Tuesday, but will not be sentenced until late September. Mata pled guilty to Count 2 of a three-count indictment, charging her with bribery. Valles-Valenzuela, pled guilty to the only count against her, sexual abuse of a ward.

Workforce rise causes increase in jobless rates

June unemployment in Reeves County jumped eight-tenths of a percent over the totals for May of this year, according to figures released on Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission. The number was similar to other counties across the state, as the end of the school year in Texas added more people to the labor force.

The TWC’s numbers on jobs and employment within the county remain at odds with the area’s sales tax figures over the past year, but did show an upward trend in the number of jobs from May. The growth in oil and gas related businesses has caused local sales tax collections to rise by over 10 percent on average compared with a year ago, but the TWC’s employment numbers to show fewer people working in Reeves County and fewer people in the local labor force than in June of 2005, a downward trend that has continued throughout the area’s economic recovery of the past two years.

Last month’s figures showed a total of 4,340 people in the county’s workforce and 3,992 employed, for an eight percent unemployment rate. In May, the TWC said there were 4,174 people in the labor force and 3,872 employed, for a 7.2 percent jobless rate, while in June of 2005, there were 4,413 people in the workforce and 4,032 employed, for an 8.6 percent jobless rate.

The county’s unemployment number remains higher than the state average and that of most surrounding counties, and most also showed a rise in their unemployment rates for the month, at the same time the number of jobs and workers increased due to the increased labor pool following the end of the school year.

Midland County’s unemployment rate rose from 3.5 to 4.1 percent from May to June, as the city added seven hundred people and 300 jobs to its workforce. A year ago, Midland’s jobless rate was 4.2 percent, but during that time, the TWC said the area’s largest city has added 4,000 workers and 3,500 jobs to its labor force.

Ector County’s unemployment rate was up from 4.3 to 4.8 percent, with an increase of 800 jobs and 400 workers. Since June of 2005, when unemployment was at 5.2 percent, Ector County has seen an increase of over 2,800 jobs and just under 2,800 workers.

Andrews County’s rate increased from 4.1 to 4.8 percent in June, as the number of workers was up by about 100 while the county added just under 70 jobs. Brewster County’s rate increased from 3.5 to 3.9 percent. With the end of the semester at Sul Ross State University, the county actually saw a drop in its workforce of eight people, while the county also lost 34 jobs. Crane County’s rate was up from 5.7 to 6.3 percent, as the number of jobs in the county remained unchanged while the workforce grew by 10. Culberson County’s rate was rose from 3.8 to 4.3 percent, with an increase of 73 workers and 61 jobs from May.

Howard County’s unemployment rate jumped 5.6 to 6.4 percent last month. The county added 187 jobs while the labor force was up by just under 300 workers. Pecos County rate of 5.9 percent was a half a percent higher than in May, as the county added 390 workers and 232 jobs. In Ward County unemployment was up from 5.3 to 6.2 percent, as the workforce was up by 155 people and the number of jobs increased by 105. Winkler County’s unemployment rate rose from 4.9 to 5.5 percent in June, with the county’s workforce up by 74 people while the number of jobs rose by 53.

Presidio County’s jobless rate remained the highest in the area, increasing from 11.9 to 13.3 percent last month. Presidio added almost 200 workers and 132 jobs from May, while Loving County, with the fewest residents of any U.S. county, was the only one in the area to see a decline in its unemployment rate. Loving saw rate fall to 12.9 percent from 11.1 percent, as the county went from having 31 workers and 27 employed to having 36 workers, with 32 of those employed.

Dates are set for melodrama this weekend

The Windmill Square Players will be performing “The Shame of Pecos” this upcoming Thursday through Sunday, as part of the 2006 Pecos Cantaloupe Festival.

The play is the a redux of the third play put on by the group, way back when. At the time, much younger versions of Brett and Holly Barrett, Craig Hill, Johnny Mauldin, Betty Greer and Reita Prewitt.

For years now, the Players have put on a melodrama in the summer. In years past it was part and parcel of Rodeo week, but this year has been moved to coincide with the Cantaloupe Festival.

This year’s production promises to again evoke laughter from the crowd with the usual mix of corny jokes, corny sets and corny acting.

Darla Blackstock, Kathy Hurley, Robin Prewit, John Grant and Tommy Jackson head this year’s star-studded cast.

It should be great fun as always. Performances will be held at the high school and are scheduled for Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 7 pm, Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 2 pm. Friday night’s performance includes a barbecue supper prepared by David Kington.

Tickets are $8 for Thursday night. Friday night costs $17.50 for adults and $12.50 for kids. Saturday tickets will be $8 and Sunday tickets will cost $8 unless you are a senior citizen - then the price is $5. Tickets for all nights except Friday are available at Trans Pecos Banks, West Texas National Bank and the Chamber of Commerce. Reservations for Friday night’s Dinner Theatre are available only at the Chamber.

Hilliard, Lutz announce October wedding

Rhonda and Randy Foster of Pecos and Brady Hilliard of Denver City announce the engagement and approaching marriage of their daughter, Candace Suzanne Hilliard to David Andrew Litz.

The bride to be is a graduate of Texas A&M University.

The future groom is the son of Bob and Whitney Lutz of Winthrop, Maine and a graduate of Texas A&M University.

The couple plan to wed on Oct. 6, in Bryan/College Station.

Summer reading awards to be given

The Summer Reading Program Pizza Party and Awards will be held at the Reeves County Library, 505 S. Park, from 4-6 p.m., on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Summer readers should turn in their reading logs by July 31.

Anyone wanting to help can do so by donating soda pops or cookies.

Marriages and Divorces

Editor’s Note: Marriage and divorce records are public record and may be accessed by anyone. All marriage records are kept in the Reeves County Clerk’s office, while divorce records can be located in the District Clerk’s Office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Marriages for April 2006, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office. Edgar R. Baeza and Victoria N. Prieto. Jorge A. Urquidi and Debra M. Flores. Aron T. Valeriano and Elsa Muela Tarango. Blaine Hannah and Juana Chavez. Guillermo Diaz and Guadalupe Leyva Torres.

Marriages for May 2006, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office. Charles Lance Bowers and Manuela Mendoza Fuentez. Victor Guevara Garcia and Ana Alvarado Levario. Oscar Hernandez and JoAnn Jurado Rodriguez. Steven Lawrence Flores and Noemi Garza. Brian Rene Fuentes and Emily Zubia Baeza. James M. Fowlkes and Teresa M. Kuhlman. Augustin Gonzales and Emma Dominguez Gabaldon. Oscar Maruffo Machuca and Beatriz Barron Rodriguez.

Marriages for June 2006, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office. Jerry S. Tesillo and Margaret Baca Lopez. Alonzo V. Munoz and Margarita Juarez. Luis I. Rayas and Sonia Leyva Medrano. Jorge Contreras Ramirez and Juanita Patino. Ramon V. Armendariz and Velia V. Ybarra.

Marriages for July 2006, as filed with the Reeves County Clerk’s Office. Paul Hernandez and Darlene Barreno. Johnny A. Rodriguez Jr. and Karmen D. Martinez. Mark Anthony Lyles and Mary Gomez Valenzuela. Ruben A. Campos, Jr. and Monica L. Romo.

Divorces for June 2006, as filed with the Reeves County District’s Clerk’s Office. Rosemary O. Martinez and Moises R. Martinez, Jr. Rebecca M. Gomez and Ricardo V. Gomez. Gustavo Salgado and Luzmaria Jaquez Salgado. Tiffany Orona andd Pedro Y. Orona. Maria P. Flores and Frankie Flores.

Court Cases

143rd District Court (Ward, Reeves & Loving Counties) Beginning July 1, 2006 and ending July 11, 2006 Judge Bob Parks, Presiding Civil Cases Filed: Ex Parte: Fausto Castillon vs. State of Texas, Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Ex Parte: Joseph boldstridge vs. State of Texas, Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Child Support Review Order filed in a family case. Child Support Review Order filed in a family case. Alejandro Briones Salcido vs. Moore Inc. Transport and Rentals, injury damage with vehicle suit. Confirmation of Non-Agreed Child Support Review Order filed in a family case. Alma Sparkman, Individually and as Next Friend, Guardian and Natural Mother of Samantha Sparkman, a Minor Child vs. Peter Mora and Reeves County, injury damage with vehicle suit. Dennis Verner vs. National Oilwell, Inc., Motion to Reinstate Case on Docket. Motions filed in Family cases: Motion to Enforce Child Support Order & Motion to Modify. Motion to Revoke Community Supervision. Motion for Enforcement and Suspend License. Petition to Establish Parent-Child Relationship, Modify and Confirm Arrears. Motion to Enforce Child Support Order. Motion to Stop Child Support Garnishment. Civil Cases Disposed: Child Support Review Order filed in a family case. Child Support Review Order filed in a family case. Town of Pecos City, et al vs. Jose O. Pena, et al, order of non-suit. Linda B. Lopez, et al vs. Joo Song Bank, order of dismissal. A name change was granted for an adult. John Dorr vs. Linda Holifield dba AAA Southern Arizona Bonding, judgment filed. Order on Petition to Establish Parent-Child Relationship and Motions was filed. Order on Motion to Modify and Confirm in a family case. Order Confirming Non-Agreed Child Support Review Order in a family case. Criminal Cases: State of Texas vs. Geomar Calderon, a Report of Community Supervision Violation was filed and an agreement was reached amending his terms and conditions of community supervision and dismissing the Motion to Adjudicate Guilt that had been previously filed. Ex Parte: Joseph Boldstridge vs. State of Texas, an agreed order reducing bond was filed.

Police Report

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff’s Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


Pecos police arrested Francisco Mendoza Gonzales, 25, 814 E. 10th St., and Jonathan Salizar Rubio, 19, 409 E. 15th St., on July 17 on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, with Gonzales also charged with possession of marijuana under two ounces. Police said the arrested was after they received a report of a vehicle driving erratically on South Cedar Street, with the odor of marijuana coming out of it. The vehicle was stopped in the parking lot of Allsup’s, 708 S. Cedar St., and a search revealed a baggie with marijuana on Gonzales and the drug paraphernalia inside the vehicle. Gonzales and Rubio were placed under arrest and transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Jose Ramos Garcia, 67, 920 S. Orange St., was arrested by police on July 18 and charged with public intoxication. Police said the arrest took place at 7:07 p.m. at the Northside Park, in the 1000 block of North Cedar Street. Garcia was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Joel E. Alvarado, 731 Rancho Rd., was arrested by police on a warrant charging him with criminal attempt (theft-default payment). Police said the arrest was made in the 1100 block of South Elm Street, and Alvarado was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Mark Renteria, 28, of the Roper’s Motel on East Third Street, was arrested by police on July 14 on warrants charging him with violation of driver’s license restriction, no seat belt, no proof of financial responsibility, speeding, failure to indicate a lane change and failure to change address on driver’s license. Police said the arrest took place at Ninth and Mesquite streets, and Renteria was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Jennifer Carrasco, 24, 1107 S. Cherry St., was arrested by police on July 13 on two warrants out of Ector County charging her with driving while license suspended and issuance of a bad check. Police said the arrest took place at 11:30 a.m. in the 1000 block of South Cedar Street, and Carrasco was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Neponuceno T. Hidlago, 34, 1015 E. Fourth St., was arrested by police on July 13 on warrants charging him with failure to maintain insurance and no driver’s license. Police said the arrest took place at Fourth and Mesquite streets at 9:31 a.m., and Hidlago was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Dolores Fuentes, 23, 915 S. Cherry St., was arrested on July 10 on a warrant charging her with cruelty to animals, a Class A misdemeanor, from an incident that occurred on June 10. Fuentes was arrested at her home, and she was transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Mickey Gabaldon, 22, 124 N. Walnut St., was arrested on July 8 on a warrant charging him with disorderly conduct (fighting), a Class C misdemeanor. Police said the arrest took place after a vehicle Gabaldon was in was stopped for a traffic violation at 7:53 p.m. in the 100 block of East Fourth Street. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Logan Joseph Stelzig, 19, of Arapaho, Okla., was arrested by police on July 9 at the Swiss Clock Inn, 1000 W. Palmer St., on a charge of eevading arrest of detention. Police said Stelzig attempted to run from officers after they were called to the motel in response to an intoxicated male at the location. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Ivan Dej Martinez, 21, of Edinburg, was arrested by police on July 10 in the 700 block of West Third Street on a charge of reckless driving. Police said the arrest took place after Martinez was seen driving his 200 Chevrolet pickup in a reckless manner. He was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.


Arnulfo Miranda, Jr., 608 W. ‘F’ St., was arrested by police on July 11 on a warrant charging him with failure to maintain financial responsibility. Police said the arrest took place at 11:41 p.m. at the parking lot of the Quality Inn on South Cedar Street. Miranda was then transported to the Pecos Criminal Justice Center.

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York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321

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